Volume 42 ~ 2019
On Top of the Movie Theater
When everyone leaves,
I sneak behind the screen, out the back door,
climb up steel ladder, weightless.
The roof is covered in ashy white,
marking everything it touches.
Here, the world’s wars are forgotten.
My fears sit at the building’s base.
In the distance, the city roars,
but my lungs don’t fill with chemicals.
Everything is a sweet loneliness.
Red and blue ruin the night,
shattering my perfect barrier.
My heavy hands grip the cold ladder.
I step down to cement ground,
worries cling to my back like a child.
My lungs crumble like leaves, and the world remembers.
The Late Night Train
Late at night, Cara sat on her bed patiently, waiting for the sound of wheels on steel and a loud whistle to echo through her quiet town. She played with her stuffed animals until she heard the train hiss to a stop and toot its whistle. Cara sprung out of her bed and climbed up the wooden rungs of the bunkbed. Her small body flopped onto the top and she shook her older sister.
“Sister, sister, the train is here,” she whispered, even though her parents were awake, sitting in the living room, watching T.V. Cara’s sister rolled over and pushed her curly brown hair out of her face.
“Cara I don’t hear the train.”
“'Cause it’s playing hid and seek with us, Sam,” she said with a lisp. Sam poked Cara’s belly and Cara squirmed and giggled.
“Okay, let’s see if the train will come out of hiding,” Sam said, pulling her sister down beside her. They laid looking up at the glow-in-the-dark stars and listened closely for the train’s signal. Snuggled under the Dora blanket Sam and Cara fell asleep before the train whistled and chugged away to the next town.
A Memory of Dead Frog Street
Walking down the sidewalk, lost in my thoughts, I didn’t notice what I was about to step on. Someone gasped from behind, the sound stopping me in my tracks. I turned around to see my neighbor’s blonde haired child running down from her porch. She squatted in front of me, picking at a lifeless corpse with a pencil. A dead frog. The child was fascinated by this small creature and now, I was too. We huddled over the frog, scanning its crushed frame. The child’s eyes were blue and curious, taking me back to careless days, back to Dead Frog Street.
My grandma and I used to stroll down this tree lined street on our way to the post office. Every time we made this trip, I counted the green bodies staining the cement. The frogs in my grandma’s town played a risky game sitting in the shade. Most of them lost to cars, leaving their bodies glued to the ground. Soon, my grandma and I made a game of counting the frogs. To get a point, you had to be the first to shout, “dead frog,” and at the post office, whoever had the most points won. Grandma was always slow to say the words, making it easy for me to beat her. As a child, my days with Grandma were numerous, but I grew up, soon forgetting about the street.
The child peeled the frog off the sidewalk and said to me,
“You’re invited to his funeral at 2:00.”
Looking at the flat frog in her gentle hands, I missed my grandma. I stood up and retrieved my phone from my pocket. As I listened to the dial tone, I searched the sidewalk for frogs. Finally, the other line answered with a quiet,
“Hi Grandma, do you remember our walks to the post office?”
She laughed, sighed, and went back to Dead Frog Street.
You Kissed Me Before I Had a Chance to Swallow My Gummy Worms, Leaving Me With This Aftermath
My lips taste like your skin,
coated in hot chocolate.
I couldn’t decide if I was speechless
or if it was the treat forcing itself up my pharynx.
A first kiss is supposed to be sweet,
but I am leaning over my toilet the next week,
still trying to get rid of sour.
Maybe it was just our inexperience
that made me squirm. I close my eyes,
think about your lips, and taste butterscotch.
It was wrong to leave you
over that, but I wasn’t ready for anything
other than gummy worms.
Graduate, Be Ready
Listen, the world is silent for you.
Childhood plays behind you,
college sits offstage.
Look, this is the last time
these people will be together.
Some might find cancer in lungs,
leaving them breathless,
others choose a life with pills,
or walk among stars on the streets.
Inhale, the air isn’t this clear
in New York. Cling to your best friend,
that title might not be hers in the future.
Taste freedom sitting on tip of tongue.
Parents long for this flavor
before children leave,
but end up tasting tears.
Perform the monotonous march.
Walk across the stage, shake hands,
step down the stairs.
Listen, the world stands, cheering,
welcoming you to the rest of your life.